Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
By Chris WittsThursday 18 Feb 2021Morning Devotions with Chris Witts
We continue our search for meaning through the eyes of Solomon who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes. His words are among the most fascinating in the whole Bible, because he had everything a man would ever want.
Ecclesiastes 2:3 says he had all the best wine money could buy—but when the effects wore off, he felt empty. How true today that so many feel that alcohol will answer all their questions. Two teenage girls were asked recently why they drank so much—they paused before responding: Life is better with a buzz.
After the hangover, Solomon’s next adventure was a massive building project. He designed and constructed several cities and homes. His palatial home took 13 years to build. He then purchased hundreds of servants and possessed flocks and herds that were larger than anyone had ever owned. He then moved into collecting precious gems and silver and gold. He even brought in the best musicians and soloists in the world to entertain him.
The Best Things Wealth and Power Can Get
Solomon had accumulated the best possessions and even gave great gifts to others in the hopes of finding satisfaction. Wait, there’s even more. Next, Solomon turned to the pleasures of intimate relationships. In fact, we know that he had 700 wives and 300 mistresses. They were available to him any time of the day or night. Yet his boredom could not be described.
In chapter 2:10 he says, “Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure”. It’s hard to comprehend someone who had so much—everything he wanted, he got. Every fantasy was fulfilled on the spot. But listen to verse 11: “Then I thought about everything I had done, including the hard work, and it was simply chasing the wind. Nothing on earth is worth the trouble.”
When none of this brought him lasting satisfaction, he turned to something that is still very popular today: his career. He threw himself into his job. Work became everything for him. None of his 700 wives ever knew when he would be home! After keeping up the frenzied pace of workaholism, Solomon writes in 2:22-23: “What do we really gain from all of our hard work? Our bodies ache during the day, and work is torture. Then at night our thoughts are troubled. It just doesn’t make sense.” (CEV)
Solomon had more money than he could spend, more power than he could wield, more material possessions than he could enjoy, and more relationships than he could handle. And yet he was empty and found life to be worthless and meaningless.
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In chapter 3, Solomon sees that the clock is counting down. This section of the book with 14 opposites is fairly well-known: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die…a time to weep and a time to laugh…a time to be silent and a time to speak.”
All Things Serve God’s Purposes
In verse 3:11 Solomon catches a glimpse of God’s work in the midst of that which looks meaningless: “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” God has a fitting time for everything to be done. The point here is that all things serve God’s purposes, but that the clock keeps ticking.
As the Searcher neared the end of his extravagant excursion, he realised that many of his fantasies had turned out to be nothing more than bad dreams. From a human perspective life is futile and fleeting. In the New Testament, James 4:14 says: “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
It’s as if he woke up one day and looked around. There were beer bottles all over the floor of his beautiful home. Women were everywhere. Each room of his house was filled with artefacts from around the world. As he looked out the window over his immaculately landscaped yard, he said to himself, This is crazy. There has to be more to this life. I’m on a dead-end road here.
Leo Tolstoy, who wrote War and Peace, also wrote a book called A Confession. As he reflected on his life, he wrote this: “It is a meaningless, regrettable failure.” He had made a mess of his life as he drank heavily, womanised and gambled away all the money he had, looking for meaning and purpose.
He wanted to become wealthy and famous, but he was haunted with this question: Is there any meaning to my life, which will not be annihilated by the inevitability of death?
(To be continued in Searching for Meaning – Part 3)
Pontiac Bible Church USA